Amarbayasgalant Khiid

On our first morning in Mongolia, we went to visit the Amarbayasgalant Khiid (monastery). The Amarbayasgalant Khiid is located in a remote area, 35km along dirt tracks from the nearest road. We had driven to a location close to the monastery the night before and had camped in the area, so that we could visit the following morning.

Parked outside the monastery
Parked outside the monastery

We had read in the Lonely Planet guidebook that there is a daily ceremony at 10.00am, so we wanted to watch that. We arrived at the monastery in time, but there was no indication of any ceremony taking place. In fact, the monastery itself was totally unattended. We saw a couple of young monks entering a nearby building and a woman pointed that we should go in that direction. We followed the monks to the building but nobody seemed to be available to point us in the right direction. After waiting for a few minutes, we left the building and gestured to a man in the vicinity, asking if it was OK for us to walk around the monastery. He indicated that I was OK, so we entered the grounds alone.

The main temple inside the monastery
The main temple inside the monastery

This is a working monastery and is not set up to cater to tourists. There are no ticket kiosks, visitor signs, or anything of the sort. There is, however, a nearby ger camp that we understand is run by the monastery for visitors in the summer months. The camp was closed at the time of our visit. It was incredible to find ourselves as the only two people, let alone tourists, to be walking around this historical site.

 

Prayer wheels
Prayer wheels

We were able to wander around the grounds of the monastery, taking photos, with nobody else in the vicinity. After a while, a young monk (15 years old) arrived holding a bunch of keys. He unlocked the main temple and allowed us inside to take photos. When we were finished, he locked up again, said goodbye, and left. There was no request for an admission fee. We were simply allowed to take our photos and look around, at no cost.

 

Temple doors
Temple doors

 

IMG_6752

Colourful fabrics hanging from the ceiling inside the temple
Colourful fabrics hanging from the ceiling inside the temple
Looking straight up to the ceiling of the main temple
Looking straight up to the ceiling of the main temple

We then left the monastery grounds and walked up the hill to the statue of Buddha, from where we could get an overview of the monastery grounds.

An ovoo (sacred pile of stones) with the steps leading to a buddha in the background
An ovoo (sacred pile of stones) with the steps leading to a buddha in the background

 

This Buddha has a commanding position on the hill above the monastery
This Buddha has a commanding position on the hill above the monastery
Lotus flower lights line the steps to the Buddha
Lotus flower lights line the steps to the Buddha
Lion alongside the Buddha
Lion alongside the Buddha

The monastery dates back to 1727-1736 and is on the tentative list as a UNESCO heritage site.  http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/942/

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